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In keeping with my resolution theme, that we need to be reflecting throughout the year and not just on January 1st; I decided to implement a new feature on my blog entitled Wondering Wednesday. This will be a chance for all of us to look at our lives differently and approach them with wonder and curiosity. So each Wednesday I will ask a question, present a challenge or just discuss a topic that might make you go “hmm” as you reflect on your own life.
For the inaugural Wondering Wednesday I am going to ask one of my favorite questions. What are your values? (did that make you go ‘hmm’?) It is my belief that our values are the core to our lives. When we can name the top five things we value we will know what ‘fits’ and what doesn’t ‘fit’ into our lives.
The analogy I love for values is to think about a young baby tree. Young trees when they are first planted have a tendency to get blown down by the first strong wind. To keep them strong and healthy sometimes they need to be helped up with wires and posts. Eventually after they had developed a root system the trees were able to sway in the wind and not get blown down. Similar to the baby trees, if you aren’t living your life with a strong root system (value system) you have nothing guiding you, nothing holding you up and you are more likely to collapse under pressure. You have to rely on outside support, (e.g. alcohol, food, coffee) to build you up and keep you going. When you have a strong value system, you can sway with the pressures of life and not get beaten down. Because you are able to continually come back to your center – your values, you are better able to make choices that help you live and work happier.
Pretend someone can silently observe your life from the outside. What would they see? Would they be able to tell what you valued most by looking at how you spend your time and with whom you spend it? If you are living your life from your values, then the decisions you make and the commitments you engage in will support one of your Top 5 values. Let’s say you value family and that is in your Top 5 values. Then you will make decisions that allow you to support/spend more time with your family. You won’t want a job where you have to travel constantly or work late hours so you can’t tuck your children into bed each night.
The disconnect comes when you value something, but you aren’t making choices around it. For example, you value family but you are working all the time so you miss important family events. Or you value creativity but you never give yourself time to engage in artistic activities.
If you value social change, you will make every day choices that inspire social change, through the clothes you wear, the websites you go to, and the products you use, etc. You will want a job that encourages social change and works toward social change. At the very least, the company you work for includes social change in their core philosophy.
If you value creativity, then you probably engage in activities that feed your artistic side whether that be drawing, painting, idea developing or writing.
Sometimes our values are not similar and might be in direct conflict with each other. When you have conflicting values it is even more important to look at your life as a whole. For example, maybe you value financial security and creativity so you might be working a variety of jobs to fit your creative outlet and your need for a secure future.Or maybe you work a job that pays well and in your free time you are feeding that creative value. If you have conflicting values you just need to be a little more creative in finding ways to add your values into your life.
When you come up with your one value (or 5) it is easier to focus on what’s important in your life. Therefore, the small every day choices or the big life decisions become easier because you can always go back to the question what do I value? When you are living from your values–you can live happier and work happier.
Need some help thinking of values? Click here.
After you’ve selected your values–feel free to share them in the comment section–I’ll go first.